An allergy influencer who didn’t use her adrenaline pen immediately after a severe reaction to peanuts shared what happened in a viral TikTok.
South African influencer Shivaika Sewlal posted a two-minute video on 29 September that showed her face with significant swelling around her eyes and overlaid text that read, “Me not realising that I’m having a life-threatening allergic reaction...”
In the video, Sewlal explained to viewers that she was unsure whether or not she should go to the hospital, as she had facial swelling but felt “completely fine,” before acknowledging she couldn’t see properly.
Sewlal continued to film her eventual trip to the hospital, showing moments including when her swollen features seemingly caused the facial recognition technology in her apartment building not to recognise her.
The influencer also recorded the voice of a doctor who asked if she had used her adrenaline pen, which is often administered to immediately treat extreme allergic reactions like Sewlal’s. After she received multiple injections and was placed on an IV drip, Sewlal reflected on the experience, calling it “scary.”
The video has since received 22.2 million views, and over 18,900 comments, many of which balk at the fact that Sewlal deliberately did not use her adrenaline pen, often referred to by the trademark name EpiPen. One popular comment that received over 122,000 likes expressed shock, “Why wouldn’t you use your EpiPen? This is insane.”
“Please never delay going to the hospital or using your EpiPen!” one viewer wrote, while another added: “As someone who carries an EpiPen, how is it that you questioned if you need it, there is no ambiguity there.”
Someone else claiming to be a nurse cautioned Sewlal, “As a nurse, I’m not gonna lie, I’m panicking that you didn’t use your EpiPen. I’m glad all turned out well, but in the future, that’s an immediate.”
Other viewers were cracking up over the doctor’s seemingly exasperated reaction to her not using her EpiPen.
“‘You must use it,’ he’s like girl r u tryna die?” one viewer commented, and another added, “That ‘why not?’ came from his most exhausted soul, man was baffled.”
Sewlal often documents in her videos what it’s like to live with severe allergies. She told Insider that she’s experienced severe allergies since childhood and often has varying reactions to different foods, both intense and mild. With her account boasting 589,000 followers, Sewlal tries to use her platform to spread “awareness” about people who suffer from severe allergies like her.
She began posting to TikTok in 2020 out of the desire to “create an online community for people who also suffer from severe eczema, allergies, and asthma. The influencer also wanted to “spread awareness about [her] conditions” and show people the reality of what it's like to live with over 40 allergies, including sensitivity to all nuts and their oils, as well as eggs, and citric acid.
Sewlal posted her viral video because she wanted her experience to serve as a cautionary tale.
“I was very confused and didn’t realize it was a life-threatening reaction at the time because I didn’t eat anything that I was allergic to,” the influencer explained to the outlet. “I only understood the severity of my situation after speaking to the doctor.”
She added: “I want others to learn from my mistakes. Now, I know to use my EpiPen as soon as I start reacting.”